EAG is so established an event that you can almost write the script before the show starts. “Essential” was how one exhibitor described it, and that was evident in the quality and innovation on the stands at this year’s outing. Olly Gully reports on an opening day that signalled how far the industry had come towards a new vision for amusements and coin-op in the UK.
EAG entered its second decade in fine form opening the ExCeL doors to what one exhibitor described as “incredibly important, it’s essential for us to be here.”
There is no doubt that EAG has evolved into a slick, neat and extremely relevant event; almost familial in spirit. Hence, the steady flow of visitors on the opening morning, arriving at their own pace and building up to a hectic rush as lunch-time drew closer.
The EAG audience pace themselves very well, and for good reason. The 2020 show stats are pretty good, the highest number of exhibitors – with international stands rising – and a wide range of offerings covering the multi-faceted requirements of the UK amusements sector.
On the more corporate side, Inspired made their debut on UK soil with a strong message: there was no doubting that the new American ownership will be driving the quality forward with vigour. Astra, Bell-Fruit and Bulldog were, as one visitor noted, ‘glowing’ on a stand that had punch, not just for its design, but also its new launches.
For head turning impact, Reflex Gaming probably made the early running. Their pub-designed stand, with faux flaring log fires and stripped brick walls, grabbed the attention, as did their test prototype age verification system. In that domain, all eyes were on YALP, the Bacta joint venture which officially brought to market the industry backed cashless app.
But it was redemption that once again rocked the hall. One figure estimated that the genre had grabbed around ‘60-70 percent’ of the floor; a pretty accurate indication of the potency of redemption in the seaside marketplace. And there was plenty to see; JNC and UDC were enjoying strong interest, as was the Crown, Harry Levy and Deith stand which did ‘pretty good business’ during the opening morning.
But there was one notable lure to the Crown stand: the attendant free VR products, Beat Saver and Ultra Moto, both definite notables. On the numbers front, BNAE enjoyed strong attendance on the opening day.
And Blueprint were marking their EAG with new deals going through the books in rapid succession. A major talking point there was the tie-up with Buzz Bingo, an encouraging win for its Aurora B3 model.
As usual, networking featured heavily on the agenda, both the bar and the central seating area were stacked. And on the opening day, the key talking point was the Gambling Commission’s announcement that it was to ban gambling on credit cards, a decision that was universally supported around the EAG hall. ‘Long time coming’ was a common theme on the subject.
Ironically, the Commission’s credit card ban came on the day that social responsibility dominated many of the innovations coming out from the coin-op and soft gaming sector at EAG.
Age verification models were being profiled vigorously, and Bacta, the show’s owners, have placed SR right at the centre of their activities during the week with the launch of their own self-exclusion portal for members.
The Gambling Commission could not fail to be impressed with the SR commitments spread across the EAG Hall.